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The Report proceeds to explain that it is desirable to examine the mortality from other causes which are known to be often associated with alcoholic excess.' The mortality of publicans from the other causes' thus specially selected by the Registrar-General is shown to be as follows:
The following table shows the death-rate at two age-groups of liquor-sellers as compared with those of all occupied males at corresponding ages, the latter being taken in each case as 100 :
Commenting upon this, the Registrar-General's Report says :
The mortality of persons directly engaged in the supply of spirituous liquors still continues to be enormous. Up to the age of twenty-five years, brewers experience little more than the average mortality, but after that age the baneful influence of their employment rapidly becomes apparent. Their mortality throughout the main working period of life exceeds that of occupied males by about 50 per cent. At all ages after the twentieth year publicans are subject to a death-rate which is much higher than the average among occupied males, while at the age groups 25-35 and 35-45 years the rates are just double the average.
The comparison with occupied men generally does not, however, fully disclose the deadly nature of the trade. The statistics of occupied males' include not only those of liquor-sellers themselves, but also those of all other unhealthy occupations and the most povertystricken and degraded of the dwellers in the slums. The class with which those who are by the Registrar-General embraced under the term ' publican ’ may be most fairly compared is that of shop-keepers, who occupy a similar social position.
Taking shopkeepers as a whole the comparison stands thus :
England and Wales
859 1012 728
Liquor-sellers have a death-rate which approaches uncomfortably near to double that of shopkeepers.
Of course, it does not follow that the excess of mortality from the causes other than alcoholism is entirely and in every case the result of intemperance, but the teaching of such startling figures as these is unmistakable :
Where, amongst occupied males generally, 300 die of alcoholism or diseases of the liver or gout, 1967 publicans die from those causes ; that is to say, publicans die from those causes six and a half times as fast as ordinary men do.
Judging from their mortality rate from alcoholism, publicans are the most intemperate of all the occupied classes in the community. Their death-rate from alcoholism alone is not only seven times that of the average man, it is double that of such classes as dock labourers and chimney sweeps, and three times as great as that of costermongers, cabmen, butchers and coalheavers.
The Registrar-General's statistics are confirmed by the experience of life assurance offices. All life assurance offices either charge an extra premium for the assurance of persons engaged in the liquor trade, or they refuse to accept such lives on any terms.
From time to time the experience of various assurance offices as to the mortality amongst liquor-sellers who are policy-holders as compared with those of other assured persons has been published. As their detailed records, with which I must not burden your pages, give separately the mortality amongst various classes of liquor-sellers and show that the death-rate is highest among those who are most closely and constantly in contact with liquor and those
| Further details will be found in the Memorandum which I appended to the Report of the Royal Commission in 1899, and portions of which I have ventured to reproduce in this article.
who are drinking it, they dispose of the suggestion which has been made that the high death-rate is due to the long hours which the men work and the bad atmosphere they breathe. Of course, these are unfavourable conditions, but the death-rate of publicans from the diseases which they produce is not nearly so much above the average as is their mortality from alcoholism and the diseases which intemperance produces. The keeper of a country inn—the public-house of the agricultural districts—leads an easy, and what would be, were it not for the drink, a healthy life. He does not sell until midnight in a gin-palace with scores of gaslights flaring. Nevertheless his death-rate is double that of the ordinary occupied man in his locality. Further, the high death-rate of brewers is not due to long hours, close confinement, and bad atmosphere.
Thirty years ago, Dr. Farr, in the Registrar-General's decennial Report, commenting upon the excessive mortality in the liquor trade which the returns for 1860-61 showed, said : 'The publican has only to abstain from excess in spirits and other strong drinks to live as long as other people.' Subsequent returns indicate that this is precisely what he finds it impossible to do.
A peculiarity of the excessive mortality in the liquor trade, and one that has a very important bearing on the point under discussionviz. the effect which facilities and temptations have on the amount of drink consumed—is that it is in the retail sale that the fatality is greatest, and it arises from the use of the article by those who sell it. In the case of most other unhealthy trades, it is the process of manufacture that is injurious, but when finished the article produced is harmless. The manufacture of pottery and glass ware, files, saws, cutlery, chemicals, and copper goods is unhealthy, but the retail sale and the use of them are not. In the liquor trade it is the article that is sold that is dangerous and injurious, and the appalling mortality arises from the temptation to use it which the facilities provided for supplying it continually present to those who are engaged in its sale. The consequence is that the liquor trade is deadly not only to those who are actually engaged in it, but also to those of the general public, the conditions of whose life and occupation lay them open to special temptation from the facilities afforded for obtaining drink. Some of the most unhealthy occupations are rendered so by the drinking habits of those who are engaged in them, and those drinking habits are very largely the result of the temptations which arise from the conditions of their work and the facilities which abound for purchasing liquor.
Among the occupations which are not of themselves necessarily unhealthy, but which have a high rate of mortality, are dock and wharf labourers, costermongers, cab and omnibus men, and musicians. They all have a high death-rate from alcoholism. The weak point in the conditions under which these classes work is that their employment is irregular and intermittent, and they have their time, or large portions of it, at their own disposal. This leads them to slip in very frequently through the too accessible doors of the public-houses whenever they have earned a shilling or two. In the case of omnibusmen the employment is not intermittent or irregular, but opportunities for drinking present themselves at the end of every journey, and the temptation appears to be readily yielded to. The idea that exposure to the weather is the cause of the high death-rate in some of these classes will not bear examination. Fresh air and outdoor work are healthy. The death-rate of dock and wharf labourers from alcoholism is four times, and of costermongers nearly three times, that of the average of occupied males. The mortality of cab and omnibus men from alcoholism and gout is two and a half times that of the average. But fishermen and agricultural labourers are exposed to the weather and live arduous lives, and engine-drivers are exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and yet the death-rates of all three classes are remarkably low, and particularly so from phthisis, diseases of the respiratory system, and rheumatic fever. They are, however, exceptionally sober men, the death-rates from alcoholism ranging from one-sixth to one-third of that of the average of occupied males, and they are much aided and facilitated by the fact that their employment removes them practically entirely from temptation to drink while they are engaged in it. Fishermen and agricultural labourers work far away from publichouses, and engine-drivers are men selected for their sobriety and reliability.
The nearer men are to public-houses and the greater the opportunities and facilities for obtaining liquor, other things being equal, the higher is the death-rate. Abounding facilities are an ever-present temptation. In the very nature of things, the weak, the careless, the unsuccessful, the incompetent, the lazy, and the criminal are those who drift into the casual, irregular, and more or less doubtful and unsatisfactory employments. They form the majority of the dwellers in the poorest and worst districts of the large centres of population. They are the classes who are most deficient in moral fibre and willpower. Everything seems to tell against them, and their capacity to resist temptation is by their circumstances, surroundings, and mode of life reduced to the lowest ebb. It is precisely where they live and work, and close to their doors, that our licensing system has planted public-houses most thickly, as though it had been the intention of the licensing authorities to take advantage of their weakness and provide facilities for luring them to deeper degradation by tempting them to indulgence which only renders them more helpless and hopeless, and makes them fall easy victims to disease and death. If it be true that the aim of legislation and government ought to be to make it easy to do right and difficult to do wrong,' it will be difficult to find & graver and more deplorable example of failure to discharge a primary duty
than that which is presented by the extent to which, under the direct sanction and regulation of law and executive authority, temptations to indulge in the most insidious and fatal vice of our time and nation have been scattered and allowed to remain most freely just where they have done, and must do, the most injury.
On grounds of health the Legislature regulates, restricts, and supervises unhealthy trades. But it leaves untouched-from that point of view—the deadliest of them all. It protects the public against health-destroying conditions and surroundings of many kinds ; but it practically leaves unchecked, on that ground, one of the most fatal and destructive influences in our midst. Insanitary surroundings and dwellings are stringently dealt with, and public temptations to gambling, vice, and immorality are by statute suppressed ; but opportunities and facilities for indulgence which degrades and demoralises character and destroys health as no other evil agency does are specially licensed and sanctioned in the greatest profusion, just where everything combines to render them most undesirable, dangerous, and damaging. It is because the Licensing Bill makes definite provision for compulsorily reducing the number of these opportunities and facilities, and also for effectively controlling those that will remain, that it is a genuine measure of temperance reform and will promote sobriety and the social welfare of the community.
Thos. P. WHITTAKER.